The Federal Bureau of Investigation keeps close track of the reported violent crimes across the United States and reports the data each year. The FBI’s most recent report indicates that in 2015, there was a slight increase in all violent crimes – up four percent from 2014 – and the murder rate in the US rose substantially – by 11 percent. Statistics show that almost three-fourths of murders involved firearms.
The report indicates that the rise in the murder rate can be largely attributed to the following seven cities:
- Chicago – with 478 people murdered, up 16 percent
- Baltimore – with 344 people murdered, up 63 percent
- Houston – with 303 people murdered, up 25 percent
- Philadelphia – with 280 people murdered, up 13 percent
- District of Columbia – with 162 people murdered, up 54 percent
- Milwaukee – with 145 people murdered, up 61 percent
- Kansas City – with 109 people murdered, up 40 percent
Despite these increases, many cities experienced a decrease in murder and violent crime and the report stated that 2015 was still significantly safer than in the 1980’s or 1990’s, when the country experienced a crime wave.
Violent Crimes In Philly
Pennsylvania law sets out a number of violent crimes for which you may be charged, each with its own possible penalties. While specifics of each case may vary, violent crimes are generally charged as felonies and can result in a term of imprisonment. Some violent offenses include:
- Manslaughter (nonnegligent)
- Aggravated assault
- Forcible rape
In addition, if any of the above offenses involved a firearm or dangerous weapon, you can face additional charges and penalties.
You Can Fight Violent Crime Charges
Too many people believe that once they are accused of murder or another violent crime, there is no hope to avoid conviction. It is a mistake to give up, however, as there are many ways to fight your charges entirely if you have been wrongfully accused. The law provides a variety of legal defenses from individuals charged with violent crimes and the most common one is self-defense.
Self-defense is a complicated legal principle that states a person has the right to defend themselves against harm or the imminent threat of harm. In order to successfully claim self-defense, you must prove certain circumstances existed, including the following:
- That you were not the person who initially started the physical threats or contact (the “aggressor”)
- If you were the initial aggressor, that you tried to retreat and the other person kept going or escalated the situation
- The force you used was a reasonable amount in light of the circumstances.
The last factor is especially important in murder cases, as there are a limited amount of times that you have the right to use deadly force. For example, if a person shoves you or swings their fist at you, you will not have the right to shoot them or use another type of deadly weapon. If there was the threat of severe or fatal bodily injury, however, the use of deadly force can be justified. Because of all the legal and evidentiary requirements for self-defense, it is critical to have an attorney who understands how to successfully present this defense.
Even if the case against you is strong and you did commit the violent offense, an attorney can help to have you charges reduced or your sentence decreased through plea bargaining. An attorney can also advise you when it may be best to plead guilty or fight your charges at trial.
Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer for Assistance
Being accused of a violent crime can be frightening, as the potential consequences of a conviction can affect the rest of your life and can even permanently take away your freedom. Anyone charged with a violent crime needs a criminal defense attorney on their side who has specific experience handling this type of serious case as soon as possible. Skilled attorney Brian Zeiger will mount an aggressive defense in your case using every legal resource possible. Do not delay in contacting The Zeiger Firm at 215-546-0340 to begin protecting your rights today.